The Great Divide

I’ve been reading Steve Sailer for a long time now. I enjoy his writing and usually his choice of topics. I don’t always agree with him, but he makes his case without a bunch of chanting and religious posturing. I think his posts on crime and demographics are some of the best you can find. Unlike anyone in the paid media, he actually supplies data in his posts. That’s also why he is no longer paid media. You’re only permitted to use data in support of the current narrative.

All that said, Steve Sailer is perfectly able to hold some nutty ideas. We all are. His post over at Takimag on Scottish Independence finishes with what I would call a very wrong and very strange opinion.

The Scottish independence movement inevitably inspires the question of secession in America. As John Derbyshire has pointed out, the United States represents a vast expanse of territory, and people from distant regions increasingly get on each other’s nerves. In an era of free trade zones and military alliances, wouldn’t it be simplest for the U.S. to break up like the SNP wants the U.K. to end?

I don’t think so, however. The big difference is that that the U.K. is primarily a north-south country, while the U.S. is an east-west country. Latitude divides people more than longitude. In America, the most important political divide is distance from deep water, such as oceans or the Great Lakes: what I call the Dirt Gap. San Francisco and Manhattan, for example, are 2900 miles apart, but are similarly liberal because family formation is equally unaffordable due to both being similarly constrained from expansion by water. Hence, the “family values” party is less relevant where family formation is prohibitively expensive.

Anyone who has spent time up and down the east coast of America knows this is hilariously wrong. People in Maine have one thing in common with the people of South Carolina. They both speak a version of American English. That’s it. The great divide in America, if one wants to declare one, is north and south as in Blue and Gray as in Roundhead versus Cavalier. It drives our politics and it is what animates the Left. It is the divide John Derbyshire calls the Cold Civil War.

But, he is correct to note there is a divide between the coasts and the interior and the two coasts themselves. I’ve been to the West Coast many times, but I know nothing about it, at least not in the way I know the east coast. The people all seem weird to me, except the Mexicans, who are pretty much like Mexicans everywhere. The whites are all a little odd as I’m sure I would seem odd to them. Even Southerners find the west coast aloofness strange and off-putting. To northeastern types, it’s positively kooky.

Having been around the country quite a bit, I can make the case for all sorts of regional divides. American is a big country with a lot of different types of people. Local weirdness is everywhere. None of it is like the Blue-Gray line. It is what drives the Cult of Modern Liberalism. Their obsession with race, for example, is tied directly to their mythological role in the Civil Rights Movement. The war on Walmart is a war on Southerners. The absurd reaction to Paula Dean was a visceral reaction to her overt “southerness.” The war on Christianity is really a war on Evangelicals. Northern Catholics think the snake handlers make religion look bad.

I can go issue by issue and tease out a Blue-Gray explanation. You can’t do that with the other ways to divide the country. The Blue-Gray line is not tied to geography. It is a culture line that has jumped its natural boundaries. Look at Texas. Austin is the Progressive enclave in an otherwise populist-conservative region. I know lots of NYC and DC based Progressives who regularly go to Austin. They mock the rest of the state as Red Neck Land. On the other hand, the people in Red Neck Land call Austin the People’s Republic.

That’s why John Derbyshire’s argument does not work. The Blue-Gray line is not based in geography. There’s some of it, but every Gray area has pockets of Blue. On the other side, the Deepest Blue region, which is New England, has a lot of Gray. New Hampshire holds a very popular NASCAR race and Maine is full of white trash Acadians. There’s simply no way to divide up the turf without localized blood baths as one tribe purges the other. Maybe that’s the future, but in a feminized and timid culture, it is not the way to bet. Instead, everyone will voluntarily submit to an increasingly authoritarian custodial state.

7 thoughts on “The Great Divide

  1. Your post is mostly about Steve Sailer, but in the last paragraph, you say, “That’s why John Derbyshire’s argument does not work.”

    Feel free not to publish this comment.

  2. Re: Dividing Lines, Right-Left, Up-Down

    It was the genius of the Founding Fathers to create a UNION of sovereign states, each with their own parochial interests to manage mostly as they best saw fit, leaving the care of specific supra-regional issues to a weak central government. It is the persistent ignorance and arrogance of statist Democrats to dismiss that brilliant architecture in their attempts to forge a powerful nation-state in the image of long-failed European empires.

  3. “Maybe that’s the future, but in a feminized and timid culture, it is not the way to bet. Instead, everyone will voluntarily submit to an increasingly authoritarian custodial state.”

    You are a wise man, which at this time has the same reward as the man who does a good turn when nobody is looking.

  4. A small point from the UK: our split between north/south (I am mostly here including the north of England with Scotland, against London and the ‘home counties’ around the capital) is one of opportunity, income and attitude.

    London has far more money, gets far more spent on infrastructure and decoration. It rules at the grace of Brussels and speaks for itself first. Consequently the south of the UK see itself as special, being the ‘decision-makers’ for everyone else. Actually, they are almost universally far less friendly and much more easily swayed by the excitable fashionable-issue crowd. Their giddy voice isn’t the voice of many others.

    That is the perceived issue in the UK, and one that spurs Scotland to seek independence among other things. ‘Southern softies’ are eager to give the wealth of the nation to others (some who are actively opposed to Britain and its traditional way of life), but not to those in its less affluent regions.

    The gap may be one of geography but it always comes down to attitude in the end.

  5. The divide can always be described as “us” and “them”. Just jump into whatever group you desire or will have you.

  6. I think the real divisions in the US are ethnic/racial. The relevant groups would be at least:

    (1) the black underclass, especially Nation of Islam;
    (2) the Hispanic underclass (La Raza);
    (3) the white underclass;
    (4) American Indians;
    (5) the Amish;
    (6) orthodox Jews;
    (7) Somalis.

    There may be others. The important points is that these groups have a separate self identity that is more important to them than their American identity. They often speak a language different from English. They often reject the legitimacy of the federal, state and local governments and merely accede to superior force. They refuse to assimilate and do so knowingly.

    The black underclass is especially vehement in rejecting the legitimacy of white upper middle class culture and norms. But the other groups are rejectionist to one extent or another, too. Even underclass whites as indicated by the prevalence of Confederate battle flags, a rejectionist symbol.

    Since many of these groups are also regionally organized into compact, homogeneous areas, the potential for actual secession is real. The black underclass is dispersed among different cities, but within those cities there is no federal or state rule.

    However, I think that as in the Austro-Hungarian Empire it would require some sort of collapse of the center to be realized.

    • Bob, I think of it this way. Take a bunch of people of various backgrounds and put them in a room. Barak Obama and Eric Holder walk in and are asked to pick out a group to talk with about their favorite subject. They are not strolling up to the homies in ghetto gear. They are not talking to the guy wearing a Dale Jr. shirt. They are gravitating to the guys in the J. Press golf shirts.

      The guy in the Dale shirt could own a string family restaurants in Ohio and be worth a million bucks while the golf shirt guys are front line attorneys for a second tier law firm. The Blue-Gray line transcends race, class, geography and income.

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